Alan Pardew has blasted talk of a rift within the Newcastle camp as he attempts to guide the club out of relegation trouble.
The Magpies have adopted a siege mentality in the wake of last Saturday's 6-0 humiliation at St James' Park, which left the club fighting for its Barclays Premier League future. Rumours of unrest within the dressing room surfaced, prompting the official club website to release quotes from senior men Cheick Tiote and Papiss Cisse insisting all was well.
But Pardew came out fighting as he was questioned on the allegations. He said: "As far as I am concerned, the group is very much together, pulling together trying to get a result. The fact that we have a lot of French players and some language difficulties has been torn up and made to be something else. There is no problem and we go to the next game."
Asked if he had endured difficult a week, he said: "Off the back of a difficult result, yes, very. When you are beaten like that at home, it's never comfortable and not comfortable to deal with. That's what we have had to deal with this week.
"A lot of criticism has come his way, some of it completely unfounded and left-field, as you would expect when you get a result like that. It's part and parcel of the game. Some of the wildfire that we have had has just been way, way off the mark. But we put a poor performance in on Saturday and we need to put that right. That's the most important thing."
Much of the criticism has been levelled at Newcastle's reliance on French players amid suggestions that some members of the overseas contingent do not understand the gravity of the situation into which the club has slipped. However, Pardew insisted that was nonsense.
He said: "I just find that accusation insulting, if I am honest. If you think because some of our players are from a foreign country, they are not bothered, it's just ridiculous.
"Of course they are bothered. Our frustrations and our professionalism are on the line. But we have our destiny in our own hands, no-one else, and only we can put it right. We have got a little gap and we need to exploit that and make sure we extend it."
That said, Pardew admitted there have been frank discussions at Newcastle's training headquarters after a black day in the club's recent history and no-one has been left in any doubt as to what is required from the remaining three games with just five points separating them from Wigan, who have a game in hand, inside the relegation zone.
He said: "Yes, of course, but there have not been words that have been out of turn. If you don't get feedback from your players, trust me, you are not going to be a manager at any level. You need to have feedback and understand what the problems are that they are experiencing on the pitch and then you have to make sure that you have a game-plan that works."